Tag Archives: work

Hostile Work Environment. Flash Fiction.

Fred watched as Jack shovelled more food into his mouth, the sound of lip smacking and chewing was all he could hear, a sheen of sweat coated Jack’s face, a thin skim of grease was just below his bottom lip. Jack opened his mouth obscenely wide to take another bite of food, the yawning maw drew Fred in, he said something around his mouthful of food, spraying crumbs across the table. It was disgusting watching him eat, his fat fingers grasping at his food, spouting off something ridiculous, it was easy to dismiss most of what Jack said, inane ramblings about religion and stories of sex acts that were too athletic for him to even dream of doing. “Fred?”
“What? Sorry. I was miles away.”
There was a pause in the conversation as everyone looked expectantly at him, “I was just thinking about last night.”
“Oh?” the way Fred’s beady eyes seemed to sparkle made Fred’s stomach clench a little, “And what would that be?”
Fred launched into his story, about him and Vanessa having mind blowing sex the night before, with a promise of more to come in the evening. He rattled off the story with ease, it wasn’t the first time he’d told a story like this and it wouldn’t be the last. It didn’t matter that it was a lie, they wouldn’t know he and Vanessa had spent a quiet evening at home watching TV with both falling asleep shortly after going to bed. He finished his story and the others were off, telling their own stories of sexual depravity. Frank let the stories wash over him, trying to ignore the constant smacking of Jacks lips. Finally lunch was over and Jack heaved himself out of his chair and plodded out of the room, everyone following behind. At their desks Fred split off and went to his own, thankful that he’d survived another lunch with them. He didn’t like any of the guys particularly but they were OK enough, the only one he couldn’t stand was Jack, the pompous, self-righteous asshole. As he started to work, Bob leaned around the short partition between their desks. “Did you hear about Jack?”
“No, what about him?”
“He’s getting taken to court again. Some woman accused him of grabbing her ass or something.” Fred rolled his eyes, “again? I don’t know why those women keep going after him.”
Bob nodded, “They’re probably just trying to get a payday out of him, hoping for some hush money so they’d just go away. They’re just greedy bitches.”
Fred chuckled and nodded. He knew the women were telling the truth, they all did. They’d seen the way Jack leered over the few women who worked in the company, the way he’d paw at their asses and breasts,. Everyone else seemed to treat it as a big joke, mostly because they knew Jack was untouchable, his father ran the company and had more than enough money to keep his son out of trouble. Fred had seen the pictures of the women accusing him, he knew it was more than a grabbing. He’d seen the large purple yellow bruises, the broken noses, the swollen-shut eyes. The only thing he could do was keep his head down. He knew what would happen if he said anything or showed anyone the pictures, they’d all turn on him, make him the bad guy and then before the week was out he’d be fired for contributing to a hostile work environment. For now all he could do was keep his head down, pretend to be one of Jack’s friends and hope for the best. He focused on his computer screen, it was better to just not think about it. If he was fired it would be almost impossible to get another job, not when he would be marked as someone who wasn’t a team player. He pulled open his drawer and pulled out a box an antacids, already he could feel that sour burn at the back of his throat and it was only getting worse. He popped a couple into his mouth and started chewing, hating the chalky feel of it in his mouth. He swallowed, the mixture giving a little relief but not much. He started typing, best thing he could do was just not think about it, keep his head down and do his job. It seemed to be the only way to survive these days.

The Daily Grind. Short Story.

“How many did we get today?”
“Eight.”
“Only eight?”
Frank shrugged, “They’re getting nervous out there, noticing people are going missing. They’re not as trusting as they were. Besides, there’s only so many homeless people in one area.”
“Not the point. Bus them in from elsewhere if you have to. We need these bodies and we need them fast.”
“We’re doing the best we can.”
“Well, that isn’t good enough. If you don’t get production up before Thursday we’re going to have to find someone else.”
“What? I’ve done an amazing job here considering what I’ve been given. The numbers have always fluctuated slightly but we’ve never fallen under our production needs.”
“And we never will. Get those numbers up or else.”
Samantha turned and left the room, Frank glared at her back as she left.
“Goddamned bitch. The fuck is her problem? Why should she care, once we have the bodies, she’s just a power hungry cunt.”
Frank shot a glare at Scott, “Don’t say those kind of things. Not here.”
“Why? It’s not like they can hear…” Scott stopped speaking, his face going a little pale, Frank nodded.
“Doesn’t matter what you think of her, it only matters what she thinks of us. If we disappoint her we’re out and once we’re out there’s no coming back from that. They won’t kill us, nothing so simple and easy. No they’ll destroy our lives. Jacob, the guy you replaced? They found child porn on his computer within hours after he was fired. His entire family disowned him and he’s currently rotting in a jail cell. Last I heard he was getting daily beatings from the guards. They found some sick, sick shit on his computer.”
“And you think?”
Frank shrugged, “he’s not the only one I’ve heard about, I don’t want to risk it personally, do you?”

Scott took a sip of his coffee, “Ok, then what are we going to do to get the numbers up again?”
“Well, the food isn’t a great incentive anymore, nor are the free blankets and shit, we could try and lure them with drugs, but I don’t know how effective that would be and we’d probably get only the truly desperate. People out there are getting paranoid, they don’t trust people.”
“Maybe she’s right, maybe we should get them bussed in from elsewhere.”
Frank shook his head, “No, that isn’t really in our budget, besides who the fuck would get on a random bus?”
“Well, we could just start grabbing them.”
“Yeah, looks like we might have to. I’ve a few contacts at one of the local churches, we might be able to use them as a front. Snatching people works but there’s an added layer of danger, especially if someone spots it.”
Frank looked down at his hands for a few seconds. “Right, we’ll keep getting people in the usual ways, then we’ll have Terry do the snatch and grab thing to bulk up the numbers if they dip.”
“OK, but that’ll only work for the short term. What will happen when we start running out, there’s only so many homeless people hanging around.”
“Don’t worry about it. We’ll be done long before then. The project only has another month left.”
“That’s still almost three hundred people if we get the numbers she wants.”
“If we have to we can always make up the numbers in other ways. They’ve done it before. It’s not as easy as the homeless, but it isn’t that difficult.”
There was a knock on the door, a tall woman walked in, her red hair tied up in a bun, “Hey Fran, how’s things?”
“Ah can’t complain. Needed a bit of a break from intake. There’s only so many of those people you can see before it becomes too much. I mean at some point you’ve to question if some of them are even people, the way they behave. Few if any of them bathe and their social skills are awful. It’s so difficult to get anything out of them. Plus that stench of theirs always lingers, I can never seem to get it out of my hair.”
Frank nodded, “Yeah, I hated intake when I was there. After this project is over you’ll be moved up to somewhere else.”
“I know but I don’t know if I can stand if for another month. I mean we had one guy in today, I don’t know how he was even still alive, massive infection in his arm, he took off his jacket and I almost threw up. It was rank.”
Frank smiled at her, “Bit of Vicks under the nose, blocks the smell.”
“Oh believe me, I use it every goddamned day. It’s the only way to get through it. How are you guys doing? Heard the Bitch was in with you.”
“Yeah, she was pissed, not enough numbers. I tried telling her we’re doing the best we can but she was having none of it.”
“Yeah, I’m surprised that you’re getting as many as you are. One woman asked us yesterday if we were working for the aliens taking people. They know something is up. Though they always figure it out sooner or later.”
“Yeah, I think next time around I’m going to ask to be somewhere other than acquisition. Too much stress ya know? Like processing is a little easier, you just do what you’re supposed to do with what you’re given. None of this hitting the numbers crap.”
“I hear processing is intense, I mean know what they do to them, I certainly don’t want to have to do it.”
Frank shrugged, “I’ve seen it done a few times. It’s nothing too shocking. Besides they’re unconscious for it all so there’s no screams or anything like that.”
Scott shook his head, “She’s right man, I don’t think I could do it, have you seen some of the workers? Their eyes look dead like, all the time. It’s some creepy-ass shit.”
“It’s not that bad, my brother did it for a while, said you get used to it quick enough.”
“I wouldn’t go for it. It’s not for me, all that blood and gore. I can barely handle horror movies.”
Scott laughed, “Then why the hell do you work in horror movie central?”
Fran shrugged, “You don’t see it here. Everything is clean and the worst I have to deal with is the smells and the mentally ill. I don’t actually have to see any of the blood and guts or hear screams, that’s what gets me. Well, the screaming is more annoying that scary, but I feel a bit faint at the sight of blood.”
“You’re in the wrong line of work then sister.”
“Well, it’s worked out pretty well for me for the last ten years. Another five and I get to retire, it’s well worth it. How many thirty five year olds do you know of that never need to work again?”
“Good point.”
“Right, well, I better get back to it. I’ll see you guys at lunch?”
“Yeah, see you then.”
Scott watched Fran leave. “I don’t care what she says, she has to be into some freaky shit to work here.”
Frank rolled his eyes, “You say everyone is into freaky shit.”
“Well, that’s because usually they are.”
“So what kind of freaky shit are you into then? After all you work here too.”
Scott shrugged and grinned, “I’m one of the normal ones I guess. C’mon, lets get started on bumping those numbers up, I definitely don’t want to be dealing with management again any time soon.”
“Yeah, wouldn’t want that at all.”

The Gentle Night. Short Story.

Tom groaned, then sat up, he needed to get a move on or he’d be late. He swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood, then he stumbled to the bathroom, wincing at the bright light. In the kitchen he made himself a cup of coffee, he couldn’t eat food this early, it made him nauseous. He double checked that he had everything, then he grabbed his coffee and left.

The walk to work should have been peaceful, after all it brought him along a quiet path by a river, with plenty of trees and flowers to look at, but Tom couldn’t appreciate any of it. Not when he had work hanging over his head. His favourite part of the day was the walk home, it always felt so relaxing, just letting the work stress fall off him. He had this job for about five months now, and it paid well, very well in fact. The pay was the only reason he was staying. It had been a struggle to find this job after he left his old one and he knew that he wouldn’t be likely to get something as high paying anywhere else. He knew that some of it was hazard pay too, but really the protestors were pretty harmless. Sure they chanted and held their signs, but for the most part they left people alone. The days of offices being firebombed had long since passed. Up ahead he could see the building shining in the morning light, it was only five stories tall, but every inch of it was covered in gleaming glass. Apparently it was to create a feeling of oneness with the outside world, Tom thought it was just a power move, to show the world they were not afraid.

He was about a block away when he could hear the protestors, chanting and yelling. He sighed and kept going, the crowd didn’t seem to be too big this morning, maybe five people in all. He ducked his head slightly as he walked passed, ignoring the signs and the yelling. He reminded himself, as he did every morning, that he should get noise cancelling headphones. He entered the building and felt the usual, almost comfortable irritation spring to life. They piped this relaxing music all through the building, or at least it was supposed to be relaxing. Tom found it incredibly annoying, it was like being stuck in an oversized elevator all day. Nothing but bland notes and inoffensive chords. He noticed he was gritting his teeth again, he forced his mouth to relax with a smile at Deborah, the receptionist. “Morning Tom”
“Morning Deb. How was your evening?”
“Ah not too bad, didn’t get up to much, yours?”
“The same really, watched some TV and just chilled.”
As they talked Deborah was typing away, but she was still looking at him. That always unnerved him slightly with Deborah, she was almost like a robot. Though given her smooth pale skin, dark hair and bright red lips it wouldn’t have surprised him. She looked almost as though she was engineered to be the perfect woman. Sexy enough for the men, but not too sexy so as to be off putting to any client. She had a knack of putting people at ease, she herself had diffused two situations where a protestor had come inside, planning to slop red paint around. In the end they apologised and left quietly. There was a loud beep as the system registered Tom as himself and the glass doors slid open quietly.
“I’ll see you later”
“Have a good day!”
“You too!”
The door closed behind him, cutting off the lobby. Tom went to the row of elevators and pressed the button, the doors of one slid open and Tom stepped inside. The elevator played its own brand of music, low and gentle, it was the closest thing to silence this building actually had, apart from the head offices of course.

 

The lift opened up to reveal a beige hallway, white was too clinical, and Tom stepped out onto the plush carpet. He followed the hallway as it curved through the building until he finally got to his office. He sat behind his desk, rested his coffee on the provided coaster and turned on the computer. He flicked through his appointments for the day, only two sessions, he sighed. Sure it made things easier for him, but it also made the day drag on and on and on. The first appointment wasn’t until 11, he opened up a word document and started typing. He was behind on some paperwork, but that would only keep him occupied for an hour or two, after that he’d just have to sit and listen to that awful, awful music.

“Hello and welcome to the Gentle Night.”
“Uh hi.”
“Nervous?”
The client nodded, she was young enough, maybe early thirties.
“Don’t be, a lot of people are, but you are in safe hands here. Did you bring your forms with you?”
“Yes, I have them right here.”
“Perfect, I’ll just take these and enter them into the system. Would you like anything while you wait? Tea? Coffee? We also have a restaurant where you can go for a meal if you like.”
“No, I’m fine thank you.” She sat in silence for a moment, “Actually water would be nice.”
“Ok, I’ll grab that for you now.”
Tom stood and left the room, this would be one of the easier ones. He always felt awkward when people came in for seemingly no reason. He went to the break room and grabbed a bottle of water, normally they each had fridges in their offices, but his had been broken for the last week. Maintenance were still promising to look at it “soon.”

He handed the woman the water and she smiled at him, “Thank you.” She opened the bottle and took a sip. “Now, I can see here you’ve been vetted,” Tom scanned the page, “six times by six professionals, however I am legally required to ask one final time that you are here by your own free will.”
“Yes, I am of sound mind and all that. I know what I’m doing.”
“I know, many of our clients do, we don’t take anyone without vetting, but the law is the law.”
She nodded. She wasn’t going to be a chatty one, Tom respected that. He preferred them to be quiet.
“Do you have affairs in order? We can provide a lawyers consultation for an extra fee if you would like.”
“No, thank you. I’ve everything arranged.”
“Ok, and I see someone will be here for pick up after, so that’s that out of the way. Have you seen our burial packages online?”
“Yes, I have, I’ve made my own arrangements.”
“Of course. OK, I’m just about done here, in a moment one of our technicians will be along, they’ll talk you through the procedure. A trained counsellor will be on call if you need to talk to someone. I just want to remind you that you can stop this at any point and there is no obligation to continue.”
“I understand. I won’t be changing my mind.”
Tom nodded as the door opened, “This is Charlotte, she’ll be your technician today, if you would like to follow her she will look after you from here.”
The woman stood, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.”
She left. As she did Tom looked at the name on her file. Amanda Smith. She had terminal cancer, nothing left for her but a long, slow, steady decline. He didn’t blame her, it was people like her who he liked helping. Made him feel like he was doing something good. The others, the ones who came for no real reason or because they were just done annoyed him the most, though he tried not to judge.

Tom sat back in his chair, he had a long wait until the next appointment. The long stretches were the worst, it gave him time to think. He could feel the guilt rising up again. He pushed it down, what he was doing was ok. He wasn’t killing anyone, he wasn’t doing harm to anyone. The people that came to them made their choice of their own free will, everyone was vetted thoroughly and given every chance to back out. It wasn’t like he was pushing the button or grabbing people off the street. Her face floated through his mind again. Brenda Power, a young girl, just nineteen, make up smeared with tears. That stood out to him even now, she had taken the time to apply make up before coming here. She had sat in his office and cried and cried and cried. Her four best friends had died in a car crash, a car she was supposed to be in, her father had died before she was born and her mother had gone a month after she had turned eighteen, hit and run. She had no one left, nothing to hold onto. She still had her mothers life insurance money, too afraid to dip into it, using it would make it all too real she had told him. He had tried to talk to her, get her to walk away but she wouldn’t listen. She hadn’t listened to the counsellors he insisted she speak with. She had left the office, head held high, tears still streaming down her face as the technician led her away. He had hoped that she would leave, that she would change her mind, but she didn’t. No one had come for the body. He wanted to arrange a funeral for her, do something because no one else was there to do it, but he wasn’t allowed. He had held his own private ceremony for her at home, involving a large bottle of scotch that emptied itself quickly. He had to take mandatory therapy after that case, but still it didn’t really help. Before her it was just a job, helping those who were dying move on to whatever was next. It could be almost noble.

Tom felt his stomach drop as the next client walked in. She was young, only eighteen, her two parents came with her. All three were crying. Brain tumour, inoperable, she’d be dead in a few months. Tom was proud that he kept his composure through out the appointment, but when the door finally closed he allowed himself to cry, hot bitter tears. Every day in this place seemed to hammer home how unfair life really was. After she left Tom gathered his things, marking it off that he was leaving for mental health reasons. As he hit enter his phone rang, “Hello we see you’re taking the rest of the day off and just wanted to remind you that there are therapists available to talk to if you need it.”
“Thank you, no I’m fine.”
“Ok, enjoy the rest of you day.”
“You too.”
Tom stood, his body felt heavy, almost numb. He walked home, normally it would cheer him up but not today. Today had just been too much.

Tom’s alarm blared, he rolled over and turned it off, he sat up, then lay back down. He couldn’t go back. He just couldn’t. After a moment he got out of bed and went into the kitchen, he grabbed the phone and started dialling. He’d find work somewhere else, anywhere else, he just couldn’t face walking into that awful building one more time.

Work Day. Short Story.

Hope everyone’s week is going well. I finally got some stuff done in my room, specifically shelves and posters put up. Yay for that. Beyond that not much else is happening!

On with the show!

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The fountain gurgled gently behind him, barely audible above the shouts and calls of te milling crowd. He took a bite of his sandwich, then used a napkin to wipe his mouth. He had bought the sandwich only moments ago, but after only two bites, he was already sick of it. Too much mayonnaise. He never learned, he always asked for a little and between the time they put it on the sandwich and wrapped it, it seemed to have multiplied an astounding amount. A big glob of mayonnaise dripped from the back of the sandwich, landing on the ground, he didn’t notice. He put the sandwich down beside himself, still protected by its wrappings, and removed the top layer, then he started to wipe the excess mayonnaise away. He couldn’t afford anything else for lunch and if he didn’t eat this, there would be nothing until at least eight, when he got home. He had forgotten his wallet, again, luckily this time there was some money in his trouser pocket, it was only a fiver, but it was enough. He could picture his wallet, still sitting on the drawers in his bedroom. It wasn’t the first time he forgot it and it wouldn’t be the last either. Nothing too serious ever came of it at least, he knew he wouldn’t forget it so often if he wasn’t in a rush every morning, but that would mean getting up earlier, something he just could not bring himself to do.

With the job of making his sandwich edible done, he left the sodden napkin beside him and began to eat again. The sandwich wasn’t too bad, now that he could actually taste it. Chicken, lettuce and stuffing. He had splurged today, even going so far as to get a bottle of coke,  with the sandwich it had come to 4.50, and as he ate, he decided it was worth every bite. His day wasn’t going that well, work was hellish, as usual, and today it was even worse. The air conditioning was broken, so the lovely warm day outside, translated to a horrifically hot, swampy atmosphere inside. The building was supposed to be all high tech, retain heat or some shit, but they didn’t seem to factor in the sun shining on the windows, which seemed to warp and increase the heat, it was almost as though each pane was a giant magnifying glass, designed to burn them all alive slowly. It was all fine when the air conditioning worked, but when it broke down, on average four times a year, it was like working in the Everglades. He popped the last bite of his sandwich into his mouth and chewed, enjoying the taste. He took a swig from his coke, then closed his eyes, enjoying the slight breeze. His phone beeped. Shit. Time to go back. He stood and gathered up his rubbish, once he was sure he had everything, he began to slow trudge back to the office.

The walk normally took ten minutes, but he made it last twenty. He was a little late, but no one would really notice or care. The boss had suddenly remembered his day was packed with meetings in other offices when he realised the air conditioning was gone. Once his work was done, no one would care if he was a little late. He needed the job, really needed it. Well, at least if he wanted a place to live and the ability to eat food. He was sending out C.V’s to other places, but no one was hiring or at least, no one was hiring him. He’d get something else eventually, he knew he would. He strolled past the rows and rows of people, personalisation was not allowed here, each and every desk looked the exact same, the only differences were the people sitting in front of the monitors. His desk was by a window, at first he had thought it was great, he could look out at the day and people going by but it didn’t take him long to realise it was the position they put the new people in. When a desk in the centre cleared out there was always a scramble for people to claim it. The air might be cool when everything worked, but the sun could get surprisingly hot. He sat down on his chair, it was warm. He moved the mouse around and waited for the screen to come to life. He glanced out the window, they didn’t even open, and down at the people below. There weren’t many, nor could he tell what any of them looked like beyond general colours, he was too high up. His screen brightened and he looked at it, after a moment, he started to type.

He stood and stretched, the day was finally over. He drained his cup of water and set it down again. He was done. His shirt was covered in sweat patches. He gathered his things and left quickly, ignoring the people still working. He didn’t want to chat with them, it would all be bullshit anyway. It wasn’t long before he was stepping out of the elevator, then through the large glass doors. Outside he paused for a moment and sighed in relief, the cool breeze was just perfect. He started to walk again, slowly. He’d have to get the subway and no doubt it would be cramped and hot down there too, he’d waste some time first, then he could head home after the rush of people. He didn’t have money, so going to a coffee shop was out of the question, they wouldn’t let him sit unless he bought something and he wouldn’t be able to afford anything they were selling. He took a left, then a right, he’d head into a bookshop, browse for a bit, it’s not like they knew he couldn’t afford anything.

“Do ya’ve any spare change?” He stopped and dug around in his pocket, retrieving his last coin, he put it into the beggars cup. It wasn’t like he really needed it. The beggar nodded, “thanks”, and started walking again. No doubt he’d go spend it on booze or drugs, his voice was slurred. Oh well. Someone would get enjoyment out of it. He continued walking, he’d get to the book shop. Something sharp jabbed into his shoulder, he cried out, hands were on him, reaching into his pockets, by the time he turned to fight back, the homeless man was running away. His phone, he subway pass, gone. His pockets were empty. His shoulder still stung, he reached back to rub it, wondering what the homeless man hit him with, when his hand hit something hard and plastic. His breath started to speed up, he felt faint. He wrapped his hand around the hard plastic and pulled, it came out easily enough. He brought it around in his hand, hoping and wishing, but knowing what it was anyway. It was as he suspected, a syringe. There was his fresh blood, gleaming in the light and beyond that, the dark red flakes of dried blood. He felt sick, faint. Oh god. What if he got infected with something? What was he even supposed to do? What could he do? He stared at the syringe in his hand, then he turned and went into the nearest shop, he needed to call the police, they’d know what to do, his things were stolen. He tried to push the thought of the syringe away, they’d tell him what to do. It’d be ok, everything would be fine.

A Day in the Life. Short Story.

Man it’s kinda weird to be putting up a story on a Tuesday.

So, it turns out that yes, yes I do have tonsillitis again. One day between stopping the antibiotics and it coming back. One.

It’s really starting to piss me off now. It isn’t the soreness of it, that’s tolerable, if it was that alone I wouldn’t really care that much, it’s the whole “I can’t do anything” aspect of it. I’m tired again, which is much more noticeable now that I’ve actually experienced having more energy. It’s kinda strange how quickly it changes. At the moment of typing this I’d say I’m at the base level of tiredness I’ve been at for the last few months, if not years, it could get worse than this, but it very, very rarely got much better and if it did it was only for very short bursts. It’s ridiculously frustrating to go back to that after feeling somewhat normal. I have stuff to do and stuff I want to do and I can’t because my bodies just crapping out on me.

Sorry for the little rant. It’s quite annoying but I try not to bitch about it too much in real life, though I don’t really know how well that’s working out. I’m going to the doctors today, again, and they’ll probably be removed soon enough. The sooner the better as far as I’m concerned.

Also, there should be some sort of frequent visitors card for doctors and you get like rewards or prizes for having to go so often. I’d so totally win that game.
On with the show!

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A Day in the Life.

There was blackness, now there was light. The world came into focus quickly. He shivered slightly and glanced around, there was a note scrawled on a pad in front of him. “Office. Your presentation is done. Just sit and look attentive.” He looked around the room and let himself zone out. It didn’t really matter if he listened or not. It wasn’t his job after all. The room was big, a large table taking up most of the space, twelve other people sat around it, a man in a suit, Bob something, was gesticulating at a chart, saying something about market shares or reports. The carpet was a light green, it always reminded him of vomit and it felt thin and gritty underfoot. The chairs were comfortable at least, he leaned back slightly into it, relaxing into the cushions. The room seemed to be sealed in glass. He didn’t recognise it. The windows were floor to ceiling and gave a stunning view of the office buildings across the road, on the other side the view was of the hallway, all beige and non-offensive colours. He glanced around for a clock, but there was none. He looked at his wrist, but he wasn’t wearing his watch. He muttered “God damn it John.” Under his breath. The meeting went on for another twenty minutes, when it finally ended a few people came to talk to him about his presentation, two to congratulate and another to ask follow-up questions, he dodged them as best he could, while apologising, he was in a rush, he had to go. He gathered everything quickly and left, still side stepping questions. It took him a moment to orientate himself in the building, but once he had he knew where he was going. It was a short walk to the office, then an even shorter one to the lifts. He encountered no one else on his way out. He pulled his phone out of his pocket, checking the time. There were one or two messages, he replied quickly, then put it away. It clacked gently against the other mobile.

By the time he was home he had already lost an hour. This was ridiculous, he’d have to talk to John about it, write a message. Though that probably wouldn’t do much good. John was an expert at avoiding confrontation, he’d claim he hadn’t seen any note for weeks. Steven changed from the work clothes into something more casual, the weekend was starting and he wanted to get the most out of it. He wore a pair of jeans and a shirt, and began the night with a bottle of beer. It wasn’t long before the others had arrived and he moved onto something stronger.

There was darkness, then there was light. It was blinding. He opened his eyes slowly, wincing at the light. God damn, how much was drank last night? A woman lay in bed next to him. He didn’t know her name. He checked his wrist, even in the drunken stupor a name had been noted and was messily scrawled across it, “Becky.” He groaned and rolled out of bed, his stomach kept rolling as he stood. His head pounded heavily, his tongue thick and heavy. A bottle of water was sitting next to the bed. There was that at least. He sipped it carefully and after his stomach accepted it, he chugged it. He stood still for a moment, hoping he wouldn’t throw it up. He went to the bathroom and pissed for what seemed like hours. When he was done he turned on the shower, as cold as it would go. The water felt like needles of ice, stabbing into him, but he forced himself to stand under the water for as long as he could, when he stepped away he felt better. He got out of the shower and dried quickly. As he stepped from the bathroom he heard the front door slam, the bed was empty. He smiled, at least he wouldn’t have to deal with Becky now. He went to the kitchen and checked the fridge. Good it was fully stocked, he’d have to write a thank you note. He took out everything he needed and began to cook. Breakfast was French toast with bacon and a glass of orange juice. He ate slowly, enjoying it. The rest of the day was his. He was feeling tired, so he couldn’t do anything too strenuous, luckily he had planned to take it easy. Sam went into the sitting room and turned on the TV, it didn’t take him long to find his shows, he wanted to catch up with them as soon as possible.

When they were done he made himself lunch, a ham sandwich with a bag of crisps, and found the book he was reading. He read for a few hours, until it was time for dinner. When he had finished eating he went upstairs to the workspace and took out his paints. He wanted to finish off the painting he started before it was time to go. He picked up the brush and lost himself to his work.

There was darkness, then there was light. John stretched slightly and yawned. He was feeling quite tired, he looked at the remains of the meal on his plate, he was quite full. He sighed and began to clean. Of course he was left with the mess. When it was done he spotted two notes on the table, one thanked whomever had shopped, the other was from Steven, giving out about the watch and how late he was after work. He shrugged and threw the second in the bin, it wasn’t his fault work dragged on. He didn’t like watches, he never wore one so how could he keep track of someone else’s. It was ridiculous. He checked the time. Still early enough to have a relaxing Sunday. He needed to recharge before work on Monday morning. He checked the diary to see if he had missed anything, but it all seemed fairly boring. He had wanted to go out with Christine, but there wasn’t much time for that. He should have texted her on Friday about it. Oh well, too late now. He went into the sitting room and sat on the couch, he’d just watch a bit of TV, maybe he’d go see what Sam was painting, John couldn’t paint to save his life and he always envied the talent. He decided would be better if he didn’t, Sam could be quite secretive about it. He was the only one of the three that wasn’t all that creative. It wasn’t long before it was time to go to bed.

He looked at the ceiling, wondering if he was really happy. He wasn’t exactly living his life after all. How could he when he only experienced a third of it. He rolled over onto his side, he’d never be able to have a wife, kids, none of it. Sharing a body was tough, but he’d manage. He closed his eyes and felt darkness take him.

Tough Job. Short Story.

Ok, so this weekend was pretty mad/intense, still feeling the after affects today, so I didn’t get a chance to do guess what, so I’ll make Fridays one extra long in return. Its been a pretty long week in general. Also, closing in on the end of the college year. 6 essays due in 3 weeks or so. Once that’s done I have one exam and I’m done. That’s right, I’ll have a degree. Isn’t that scary?

Yes, yes it is, that’s the correct answer.

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Tough Job.

He slid the key into the lock, then began twisting it. The lock clicked once, twice, then a third time, he removed the key and pulled down the handle. He opened the door slightly and wedged his foot in the crack and carefully placed the key around his neck. The cord it was strung on was old and battered, but it was strong. Once the key was securely in place, he opened the door and stepped inside, as soon as it closed, it clicked three times, locking itself again. He stood in the darkness and counted slowly. 5…6…7…8…9…10. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, he could see the flickering lights through his eyelids, great white flashes. They paused, then became constant. He opened his eyes, always expecting to wince, and looked around. The room was empty, as it should be. That was something at least. The last few times he was here, someone had left junk lying around. It was dangerous and against the rules, which made it deadly. They were strict about the rules here. He counted another ten, then to five, just to be safe and walked to the second door. It opened smoothly and he breathed a sigh of relief. He had heard stories, rumours really, of when people would come in and find the second door locked, the first one too, then a count down would start. No one knew what happened when it ended, but it couldn’t be anything good. He stepped through the door and begun the short descent. It was slightly darker in this room and he always worried about falling down the stairs. His hand trailed along the cool hand rail, steadying himself should something happen. He reached the bottom of the stairs and paused again, steeling himself. Finally he opened the last door and stepped through.

It was the smell, every time, that awful smell. He shut his eyes and tried to breathe through it, thick, heavy, rancid. When he was sure he wasn’t going to wretch, he opened his eyes. It was the first thing he was taught. Don’t look at it and smell at the same time. It was chained up, it had to be, large metal links straining against its dark red bulk. It pulsated slowly, contracting and expanding. He thought it was testing the limits of the chains. They didn’t know what it was, only that it couldn’t be let loose. He walked past it, keeping his distance and went to the supply cupboard. He filled the bucket with its food, then went back outside. He climbed the stairs carefully then stood at the railing, praying he wouldn’t fall. he upended the bucket and watched as the entrails fell onto the creature, they sat on the surface for a few moments, gleaming dully, then the disappeared. It was instantaneous. They were there and then they were gone. He stepped back from the edge, then went back down the stairs, leaving the bucket back in the supply cupboard, he left the room, pleased to get away from it. It was their security guard really. People were curious and they seemed drawn to the creature, especially if they didn’t know what the hell it was. When he started, he didn’t think it was necessary, you needed the key to get in, then there were the body scanners, but apparently people were able to get around them. He’d seen it once, on the security feed. He didn’t need to watch it but did out of curiosity. It was gruesome. It knew someone was in the room, it also knew the person was fair game. She approached it warily, but she wasn’t wary enough. She got into its range and she was gone, nothing left in her place but blood and bones. They stayed in her shape for a few moments, he didn’t know how it was possible, but they did. Then suddenly, as though a bubble had been burst, the blood crashed outward in a wave and the bones collapsed to the floor. It was the last time he watched the security feed. There were other break ins, but he couldn’t stand to watch them.
The second room was where they were headed, Jake was sitting behind the desk, feet up. He was supposed to be there in case someone got passed the creature, he was obviously watching the security feed. “Morning.” “It’s night time.” “Oh right yeah. I can never keep track.” He wondered if Jake ever left the building. Jake lifted up a cup of unidentifiable liquid and took a long drink. He went passed Jake and found his desk, they moved them around sometimes for the fun. He sat down and dug through his desk, searching for a pen. An alarm started blaring. Jake leaned forward and switched it off. “It’s your turn.” “It’s always my turn.” Jake shrugged. “Fine. Christ.” he stood up from the desk and prepared, grabbing a gun from his desk. They were supposed to be trapped, but sometimes they escaped. He walked to the door with the flashing light and stepped through. He waited in the air lock, then felt his ears pop as the pressure changed. The door opened slowly and he stepped through, wary of what might be in the corridor. The hall was empty, he walked down it slowly, checking each room through the viewer before finally reaching the one with the flashing light. He slid back the viewer and peered in, Prisoner 231 was still there, staring at the wall, lost in his own mental prison. The machine must have malfunctioned. He took a breath, trying to still his beating heart. He hoped the rest of the day would pass sedately. He had so much work to catch up on. He turned from the door, something stabbed into his back. It was over quickly, the blade tearing through everything. He collapsed to the ground, writhing slightly, manic firing of electrical impulses that weren’t aware they were already dead. Prisoner 231 stepped over the body. The holographical projector had taken him twelve years to perfect. He moved down the hallway and into the air lock, already trying to decide exactly what he would do first now that he was free.